The Science of happiness: help on being happier
Sadly, I have not been able to post on my blog for some time. Mainly because I want to ensure that I have the time to share quality content and not just generate random crap to maintain regular posts.
This post isn’t going to be the most visually stimulating nor is it about some great adventure, but I want to give a more thoughtful read about something that is important and influential in my life. What about those times we can’t travel or whereby we’re not feeling great? I feel like sharing a little something to get you thinking and try leave you with a message based on things I have learnt in my short time in life so far. The goal is for me to share information that has genuinely helped me in life. Not a lot of things that I read or watch truly move me or spark my interest. The things I wish to share have stuck with me to this day, and I hope that I can share those things with you and how they help me.
One of my ideas is to talk about some of the things that give me motivation. When I’m not traveling or surrounded by friends, working a job or in my ‘in between’ phases – sometimes I have a little too much time to myself and this can make me feel a little useless.
But I want to talk about positivity not negativity. The things in life that have really made a difference to my outlook and way of thinking. This post will be the beginning of my weekly ‘inspired information’ posts whereby I share a fact, a speech or piece of academic research that has stayed with me throughout my life. Something that genuinely helps me reflect upon. I am a strong believer in reflection and how you can review yourself, your strengths, weaknesses and things you wish to improve. For me it helps me to at least try be a good person, to others or even for myself. Knowing what I need to grow on or work toward is always helpful because at the very least I can be aware of my weaknesses, and so if an opportunity arises to challenge them and improve, I can do so.
First of all, one of my favourite stories is related to happiness.
I would certainly recommend checking out this Ted Talks video, as out of the hundreds that I watch, this is the one single video that I remember to this date. Check it out below:
I often don’t care so much about someone’s opinion, but more so facts, scientific studies or research. Opinion is great for advice or suggestions, but when it comes down to talking about wellbeing and happiness, in my opinion everyone is different.
Someone can write a blog about how meditating in the morning makes you calmer and more positive throughout your day. I tried it, wasn’t for me. At least with science and studies there is reasoning and truth behind things, and they are proven factual. This gives me confidence that there is some reasoning behind something occurring or making you feel a certain way.
Scientific or academic studies stand out to me because a scientist didn’t wake up and think that meditating makes people happy, they have studied brain activity and undertaken studies that mean that their findings are factual, and based upon research – not just opinion. For me, that is what makes them valuable, and really resonate with me.
Simply put, research> some dude’s opinion.
Ted Talks Study on happiness
The Ted Talks speaker showed two images and asked the audience – ‘Which person is happier?’. The image on the left was a man who had just won the lottery. The image on the right was a man who was a paraplegic.
Naturally everyone said that of course its that lucky man who’s just won millions of dollars.
A ‘life changing’ amount of money right?
They were wrong.
The study showed that one year after these events, these two groups of people were equally happy with their lives.
The scientific study proved that there is a limit of happiness. That in a single moment of happiness, no one person can feel more happiness than the other. This means that when you think of times where you experienced something that made you smile and really made you feel genuinely happy, you were just as happy as someone winning 1 million dollars, or just as happy as someone who got married to the love of their life. It is not possible for someone to be happier than you in that moment of joy.
The reasons this stayed with me til this day, and why this is my most important thing I wish to share, is because I hear so many people get annoyed at their friends and celebrities for having fancy cars or having money or getting married and being ‘happy’. Because someone who is on their death bed, or someone living on the streets – their life may be no where near as healthy or as long as someone else’s, but they are still able to feel the exact same feeling that these ‘rich’ or ‘desirable’ people are feeling.
From this, it makes me realise that those moments that may not be monumental or life changing, or about winning heaps of cash. Those moments in life that make you smile, or make you feel pure joy – those emotions cannot be beaten or ‘better’ for someone else.
Even if you’re sat in your room feeling great about life or where you journey is taking you, that level of happiness is the same as someone winning the lottery.
Just think about that. Winning the lottery, you would be so amazed and overjoyed. But that emotion is measured on the same level as those other moments in your life that bring you pure joy, regardless of ‘wealth’ or where you are in life.
Another interesting point is that he talks about a democrat who lost everything, his job, his money, his life. And years later he describes himself as being better off in every way. This is important because there are so many times in life whereby you come away from a scenario, a lost job, a break up, missing out on something – but looking back there will always be positives coming away from something. When one door closes, another will always open. This doesn’t mean that in the moment these things don’t suck, because they always will. But simply by knowing that you should look back one day and you will be able to say it was the best thing to ever happen for me. That should give you some confidence. From my first break up, it literally took me almost a year of feeling like I was alone, feeling like my life was at its lowest. After this came my life changing opportunity of moving to Orlando for my Disney international program, and from this stemmed so many amazing and genuinely life changing experiences. Furthermore, I am such a believer that all of these experiences in life, good or bad, they influence and shape you into where and who you are today. From bad experiences, always comes a lesson. From breakups, we are reminded that there was something worth being upset for, and then you can remember that even though it is no longer a part of your life, the happiness and memories that you made with that person will no longer be a regret, but an experience and a part of your life that was pure happiness.
Some of the most successful people in this world today, went through the worst of times, the lowest of lows. But it was their determination to not give up, to have a desire or want in life and to just never give up. That’s how they got to where they were, and they now look back upon those low times, and are thankful that they happened because maybe they wouldn’t be in the position they are today had they not broken up with someone. Or maybe if they didn’t get fired they wouldn’t have found their actual dream job. There will always be a positive from a negative. Always.
I think that people live their lives trying to reach a desirable point. Trying to work toward getting that dream job or dream home. But don’t forget about the journey. Especially at 21, its sometimes possible to wish you had finances for stability, or had a secure job after university. But what about each and everyday that goes by. Should I be unsettled, unhappy until I land that dream job, or until I’m financially stable with my own home?
Those things are great in life, but they do not define who you are, or how successful or good of a person you may be.
I myself do not read this advice and suddenly I am this amazing human being. I still struggle after a break up, or still feel down after not getting that job I really wanted. But deep down I know that by not giving up, something great will come. I will end up doing something amazing, and all of those rejections will lead me to being where I need to be in life. So long as I do what I can to appreciate the positives, and try not worry about the bad times too much.
I find that knowing this information makes me not envy of other people. It makes me appreciate the thing or the person or whatever it may be that I have. Sadly, social media is such a great thing but also can become very harming to the confidence of many people. When essentially we post and share a lot of things to make us look great and be perceived as living a great life. This can then become very upsetting when we become envious of others or think ‘why am I stuck here whilst everyone else is having a great time’. This is because often they are not. They may have gone to a party with 100 people. But maybe not one of those people asked how they were the next day. Or maybe they surround themselves with ‘friends’ who don’t really care for that person of try to make them do well in life.
What we see on social media and reality is very different, and something that you should not let concern you. Be concerned about yourself and less about what people share.
The people we hang around with should also bring joy and happiness into your life. Of course sometimes we hang around with shitty people simply so we don’t have to be alone. But maybe there is someone there who we overlooked. A family member, someone who lives not to close to use who really wants the best for you, and cares. These are the people we should spend our time with, and surround ourselves by. A great friend once told me that it is sometimes the case that in life we are lucky to have 1 genuine friend. But we are lucky to have one person in our life who genuinely is always there for us.
Me personally I have met people from around the world who sadly I cannot be around them all which sucks. But I know that those who I still talk to years down the line, or that friend that is always their when things get bad. Those are the people we must rely on and surround ourselves with.
I witness so many people with a great upbringing in an okay town go downhill. They choose to surround themselves with people who enjoy doing nothing but sitting and playing video games, or people who enjoy drugs. You must ask what’s in your best interests. Are these people going to push me to getting my dream job? Are they going to want me to be successful? Will they stand by me when I meet a new partner? Will they celebrate with me when I achieve something? If not, screw them. Those people are there in your life to simply not be alone. Those are the people who bitch about you behind your back, and when it comes down to the important points in your life, they are the people that will be happy to try bring you down and make you miserable.
Most importantly, people on social media may look happy and desirable and they may well be living their best life. But we are all human. And many of us face distress, and times of mental instability or times of sadness. And behind closed doors, behind the smile on Snapchat that people show, we all have our own battles to fight.
If there’s anything to take away from this, its to understand that your experiences of happiness are on the same level as these celebrities or these friends that look like they are living the ‘dream’ lifestyle. Whether its waking up to the person you love, or coming home to your dog. Whatever it is that makes you happy, those moments should be cherished and they are going to be the moments that you look back on without regret.
Be in the moment.
And never ever take things for granted because in a second, they may be gone. And as sad as this may be, at the very least you can say you sat there and enjoyed every single second that you had in that moment.